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It Ain’t No Madison Square Garden: 5 Rockstar Turns on Broadway

As Billie Joe Armstrong assumes the role of St. Jimmy in American Idiot tonight, we pause to remember a few other moments when rockstars graced Broadway stages.

Reba McIntyre: She decided to do a Broadway musical and half an instant later, she owned this town. A decade out, Reba’s turn as Annie Oakley in Annie Get Your Gun is still talked about as one of the great performances in recent memory. And one of the only things that could overshadow a towering, Tony-winning Bernadette Peters.

Pete Townshend: He didn’t just write Tommy. He won a Tony Award for it, too, setting a precedent for rock on Broadway, and for American Idiot specifically. Townshend also made one of our favorite Tony-speech quips of all time. Of the musical Kiss of the Spider Woman—Tommy’s main awards season competition that year—he said, “I’ve seen your show once and I love it. I’ve seen our show a thousand times, and I hate it.”

The Underestimated Joeys: Boybands have always been a fertile breeding ground for Broadway performers, and for logical reasons. They dance! They come cheap! They have ready-made fanbases! But every once in a while, one or two distinguish themselves with a decent performance. No one really expected the Joeys—McIntyre and Fatone, both late of blockbuster boybands—to do anything of note on Broadway, but both did. As Norbert Leo Butz’s replacement in Wicked, McIntyre has somehow become an iconic Fiyero, forever shifting the casting of the role toward its current hunky/pretty direction. And as the first major casting stunt over at the Nederlander, Joey Fatone pissed off basically every fangirl who thought she had some cred when he joined the cast of Rent in 2002.

Sebastian Bach: Yeah, the Skid Row frontman made his debut in Jekyll & Hyde in 2000, but we’re more interested in his second Broadway stint, when he joined the ranks of Semi-Famous People Who Eventually Replaced Raul Esparza. As Riffraff in the 2001 revival of The Rocky Horror Show, Sebastian Bach got ok notices from fans, but raised eyebrows when he allegedly asked the creative team expand the role for him.

Bret Michaels: So, he wasn’t on Broadway. Except, you know, for that half an instant when he got bonked in the head by the Tony Awards set. One thing we’ll say about this micro-stunt-non-casting: It was more interesting than say, Aaron Carter in Seussical.

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